In Pictures

The NHS at 70: A timeline in pictures

On 5 July 1948, 70 years ago on Thursday, the National Health Service (NHS) was born.

NHS nurses seen in 1953 and 2018 Image copyright Getty / Reuters

We look at seven decades of the development of the NHS, alongside medical advancements, highlighting events that have been documented with archive photography.

1948: The creation of the NHS

After the planning of an ambitious project to bring healthcare to everyone in the UK, the NHS was launched by Aneurin Bevan, the Health Secretary of the post-War Labour government.

Bevan, seen below in 1945, was the chief architect of the plan to bring together hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists under the umbrella of one organisation.

Aneurin Bevan seen in 1945 Image copyright Getty Images

The services were available to everyone, financed entirely from taxation with the central principle being that people would pay according to their means.

Aneurin Bevan seen with an NHS poster behind him Image copyright Getty Images

Bevan is seen below on 5 July 1948 on the first day of the NHS, at Park Hospital, in Manchester (known today as Trafford General Hospital).

Aneurin Bevan on the first day of NHS at Park Hospital Manchester Image copyright NHS England

1952: Charges introduced

By the 1950s, spending on the NHS exceeded what had been expected by Parliament and the Treasury.

Five years after the launch of the NHS, charges of one shilling (5p) for prescriptions were introduced, and a flat rate of £1 for ordinary dental treatment.

Five-year-old David Hurst is seen below, receiving dental treatment at the minor ailments clinic of the newly opened LCC Woodberry Down Health Centre, in London, in 1952.

A child receives dental treatment at LCC Woodberry Down Health Centre in London Image copyright Getty Images
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Bevan, then Minister of Labour, resigned from the government in protest at the introduction of the prescription charges.

The charges were briefly abolished in 1965 and then reintroduced in 1968.

In 1952, Princess Margaret opened a new department of the Queen Alexandra Hospital at Cosham, Portsmouth, seen below.

Princess Margaret seen opening a new department of the Queen Alexandra Hospital at Cosham, Portsmouth, in 1952 Image copyright Getty Images
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1954: Smoking and cancer link established

British scientist Sir Richard Doll began research into lung cancer in the 1940s, following an alarming rise in the disease.

His research on patients in 20 London hospitals revealed that smokers were far more likely than non-smokers to die of lung cancer. He published his findings in the British Medical Journal with Sir Austin Bradford Hill.

Doll gave up smoking while carrying out his research and went on to live to be 92. He is seen below in 2004.

Sir Richard Doll seen in 2004 Image copyright Shutterstock

The government accepted the link between smoking and lung cancer in 1954.

1958: First mass vaccination programme

Everyone under the age of 15 was vaccinated against polio and diphtheria in a programme in 1958. Before the vaccinations, cases of polio climbed as high as 8,000 and diphtheria as high as 70,000 in epidemic years, resulting in 5,000 deaths.

In the early 1950s, NHS mobile immunisation vans were used, seen below in Portsmouth.

An NHS mobile diptheria immunization van seen at work in Portsmouth in 1950 Image copyright Getty Images
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1961: Pill becomes available

Initially, the pill was available to only married women, until the law was changed in 1967.

The number of British women using the pill rose from 50,000 to one million between 1962 and 1969.

Prof Gregory Pincus, who developed the contraceptive pill, is seen below on the streets of London in 1966.

Professor Gregory Pincus, inventor of the contraceptive pill seen on the streets of London in 1966 Image copyright Getty Images

1962: First full hip replacement carried out by Professor Sir John Charnley

Surgeon Professor John Charnely holds an artificial hip joint made from stainless steel and plastic Image copyright Getty Images

1968: UK's first heart transplant

Britain's first heart transplant was carried out at the National Heart Hospital, in Marylebone, London, in 1968.

South Africa-born surgeon Donald Ross led a team of 18 doctors and nurses to operate on 45-year-old Frederick West in a seven-hour procedure. The donor was 26-year-old labourer Patrick Ryan, seen below with his wife, Mitzi, on their wedding day.

Britain's first heart donor Patrick Ryan seen with his wife Mitzi on their wedding day Image copyright Alamy

West, seen below after the operation, died 46 days later from an associated infection. Only six further transplants were carried out over the following 10 years, for fear of failure.

Britain's first heart transplant patient Frederick West pictured with nurses after recovering from a heart transplant operation Image copyright Getty Images

1968: British woman gives birth to sextuplets after fertility treatment

Sheila Thorns underwent a Caesarean section at Birmingham Maternity Hospital in 1968, giving birth to six babies; four girls and two boys.

The medical team numbered 28 staff. One of the girls died shortly after the birth. The five surviving babies are seen in incubators in a photo below.

The five surviving babies of sextuplets born to Sheila Thorns are seen in incubators at Birmingham maternity hospital Image copyright Getty Images
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Two further babies died at a later date. About one birth in three billion results in sextuplets. Thorns had been treated with the fertility treatment gonadotrophin.

She is seen in a photo below in 1969 with three of her sextuplet babies. From left to right, they are Susan, Roger and Julie.

Sheila Thorns seen with three of her sextuplets in 1969 Image copyright Alamy
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Parents Sheila and Barry Thorns are seen in Woman magazine in 1969, below.

Parents Sheila and Barry Thorns are seen in 'Woman' magazine in 1969 Image copyright Alamy
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1972: Computerised tomography (CT) scanners used for the first time

A CT scanner uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body. The scans are sometimes referred to as Cat scans.

The images of internal organs, blood vessels and bones can be used to diagnose and monitor conditions and guide treatments.

Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield (below, standing far left) conceived the concept of the scanner in 1967 and launched it in 1972.

Model Gillian Duxbury appeared with the scanner in a press photo call below, alongside its developers.

Model Gillian Duxbury is seen with a CT scanner alongside Godfrey Hounsfield and other developers Image copyright Alamy
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Hounsfield's invention earned him a Nobel Prize alongside the American Allan McLeod Cormack, who developed the same idea in the US.

Today, CT scanners are widely used.

1978: World's first test-tube baby

A new technique to fertilise an egg outside a woman's body before replacing it in the womb was developed by Dr Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecologist at Oldham General Hospital, and Dr Robert Edwards, a physiologist at the University of Cambridge.

Lesley Brown gave birth to the world's first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, in 1978.

Louise Brown is seen at birth and on the front of a newspaper Image copyright Getty / Shutterstock

Louise Brown is seen below in 1981 with her parents, John and Lesley Brown, and playing in a garden the same year.

John and Lesley Brown with daughter Louise Brown Image copyright Shutterstock
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Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, seen in 1981 at the age of three Image copyright Getty Images

Louise Brown is seen below in 2013, holding the jar in which her embryo was incubated.

Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, holds the incubator jar in which her embryo was incubated Image copyright PA

1985: Britain's youngest liver transplant patient

In 1985, two-year-old Benjamin Hardwick became Britain's youngest liver transplant patient, at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge.

The transplant was successful, but Hardwick died 14 months later just after his third birthday.

His family set up the Ben Hardwick Memorial Fund to offer financial support to the families of children with primary liver disease.

Hardwick is seen below with his mother, Debbie, in 1984.

Two-year-old Benjamin Hardwick seen with his mother Debbie Image copyright PA
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1998: Better Health Better Wales

The publication of the report Better Health Better Wales in 1998 explicitly laid out the link between poverty and ill-health.

Nurse Lisa Roberts is seen in 1998 below, examining X-rays on a light-box in the special care baby unit at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

Nurse Lisa Roberts Examines X-Rays on a light-box in the special care baby unit at the University Hospital Of Wales, Cardiff. Image copyright Getty Images

2002: First successful gene therapy

The first successful gene therapy was carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, in 2002, curing 18-month-old Rhys Evans of "bubble boy" disease - severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID).

Children born with SCID have no immune system of their own and must be kept in totally sterile conditions. Evans is seen below in 2002.

Rhys Evans in a playground Image copyright PA

2007: Smoking ban

Smoking was banned in restaurants, pubs and other public places in England from 1 July 2007.

Smoking ban NHS leaflets Image copyright Shutterstock
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2007: Introduction of robotic arm leads to groundbreaking heart operations

In 2007, patients were treated for fast or irregular heartbeats, using a robotic arm, at St Mary's Hospital, London.

The Da Vinci surgical system robot is seen below at the Royal Marsden Hospital, in London, in 2007.

The Da Vinci surgical system Robot is seen at work at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London in 2007 Image copyright Shutterstock

2012: London Olympic Games opening ceremony pays tribute to the NHS

The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games included a performance that paid tribute to the Great Ormond Street Hospital and the NHS.

Performers pay tribute to the National Health Service (spelling out NHS) during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games Image copyright Getty Images
Performers pay tribute to the National Health Service during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games Image copyright PA
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Performers pay tribute to the National Health Service during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games Image copyright Getty Images

2012: First person in the UK to have a hand transplant

On 27 December 2012, Mark Cahill's hand was amputated and a donor hand was transplanted during an operation at Leeds General Infirmary.

Cahill is seen below after the operation, at home with his wife, Sylvia.

Hand transplant recipient Mark Cahill seen at home with his Wife Sylvia Image copyright Shutterstock
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2018: The NHS turns 70

The NHS celebrates its 70th birthday on 5 July 2018.

A composite image below shows an NHS waiting room at the Montague Hospital, South Yorkshire, in 1959 (left) and a waiting room at Milton Keynes University Hospital in 2018 (right).

A composite image shows an NHS waiting room at the Montague Hospital, South Yorkshire, in 1959 and a waiting room at Milton Keynes University Hospital in 2018. Image copyright Getty / Reuters

To mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, Reuters photographer Hannah McKay took photos of NHS workers at Milton Keynes University Hospital.

NHS workers at Milton Keynes University Hospital Image copyright Reuters
NHS workers at Milton Keynes University Hospital Image copyright Reuters
NHS workers at Milton Keynes University Hospital Image copyright Reuters

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